On 27 March 2023, the Home Office finally confirmed that after seven years, the Offshore Wind Workers Concession (the ‘Concession’) will expire on 30 April 2023 and will not be extended.
This will have massive implications for everyone in the sector as some international workers will now need to leave the UK by 30 April 2023.
Employers must ensure that all offshore workers have the right to work in the UK and must ensure that non-settled workers apply for an entry clearance (a visa from outside the UK) to work on wind farms in the UK.
What should you do as an employer?
The Home Office have imposed an additional reporting duty whereby employers must notify the Home Office when offshore workers enter and depart from the UK. This must be complied with from 12 April 2023, prior to the end of the existing concession.
Workers without sponsors
Offshore workers without a sponsor should notify the Home Office each time they arrive in and leave UK waters by emailing the offshore worker notification inbox: email@example.com
The email should include the following information:
• name, date of birth, nationality
• date they arrived in, or left, UK waters (as appropriate)
• activity being undertaken in UK waters
• immigration route which they are arriving in/leaving from UK waters on
• vessel name
The relevant notification must be made:
• no earlier than the date they arrived in or left (whichever is relevant) UK waters
• no later than 10 working days after the date they arrived in or left (whichever is relevant) UK waters
Workers with sponsors
The sponsor of an offshore worker is responsible for fulfilling the notification requirement and must notify the Home Office of the dates when that worker:
• first arrives in UK waters at the beginning of the job for which they are being sponsored
• leaves UK waters at the end of the job for which they are being sponsored
The sponsor must make the relevant notification:
• no earlier than the date the worker arrives in or leaves (whichever is relevant) UK waters
• no later than 10 working days after the date the worker arrives in or leaves (whichever is relevant) UK waters
• The notification must be made by emailing the Offshore worker notification inbox (firstname.lastname@example.org ) with the following information:
• the sponsor licence reference number
• the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number of the offshore worker
• the name, date of birth and nationality of the offshore worker
• the name of the ship or vessel on which the offshore worker will be based
• the date they arrived in, or left, UK waters (as appropriate)
What happens when the concession ends?
“The Home Office has indicated that those already in the UK on the date that the Concession comes to an end will need to have an alternative visa in place and there will be no exemption for workers that entered prior to the expiry of the Concession.”
When the Concession ends on 30 April 2023, all foreign nationals coming to work on wind farms in UK territorial waters will require immigration permission before they start work. Indeed, permission will be required for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, unless they have successfully applied for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or qualify for a Frontier Worker Permit.
Obtain a sponsor licence:
If you do not already hold a sponsor license, it is important to obtain a sponsor license from the Home Office before you can sponsor any foreign nationals. It is advised to submit the Sponsor Licence application immediately as the decision time could take up to 8 weeks. The company will need to meet the sponsor licence requirements and submit the relevant documents and evidence to the Home Office. The employee will also need to decide the visa route they wish to be license as above and the route they wish to sponsor their employees under.
Sponsor the employee under a work visa route:
Once the sponsor licence has been granted, you can start to sponsor workers under the relevant routes which usually is Skilled worker route or Global business mobility routes. The employees will need to meet the relevant eligibility requirements. You will need to consider of the role’s skill level, salary package and even the English language level for applicants.
Please contact Irfan Khan and Saira Azam should you wish to learn more about sponsor licences and skilled worker visa applications.